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What’s at the top of your financial to-do list for 2019? This was the question we asked FT writers and experts to answer — in the form of a tweet of 240 characters or less.
Revealed below, their quick-fire financial resolutions cover saving, spending, investing, pensions, property matters, inheritance and tax planning and more.
Perhaps some of their good intentions will inspire you to make a change in the way you manage your finances in the year ahead? We have included their Twitter handles below so you can keep up to date with their progress in the year ahead. You can use the hashtag #FTResolutions to share your own financial pledge — tag the @FTMoney account and we will retweet the best ones to our 66,000 followers.
We wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous new year.
Merryn Somerset Webb, FT columnist @MerrynSW
I will stop nagging the young about their personal finances. Auto enrolment gives them a good pension base and the truth is that however much you nag them, no one cares about saving until their 30s. Let them eat avocado!
Bobby Seagull, FT columnist @Bobby_Seagull
I go to gym classes to protect my physical health. In 2019, I’m going to treat my financial health in the same way. I’m going to start scheduling a weekly 15-minute slot to examine my finances to build up a regular habit.
Paul Lewis, presenter of BBC Moneybox @paullewismoney
Check your bank and credit card statements. Slightly less boring than New Year television schedules and you may find payments you don’t recognise. Check what they are. If you don’t want them, contact the bank to cancel them. They must obey you. When the firm gets in touch, tell it too.
Terry Smith, founder of Fundsmith @FundsmithLLP
My resolution is to spend my time worrying about the things I can predict and affect — identifying and holding good companies— and not wasting time on those things which no one can predict, like the direction of markets.
Lindsay Cook, FT Money Mentor columnist @LindsayMoneyM
I will introduce financial date nights with my husband, starting by showing him all of our savings, pension funds and investments, then credit cards and bills. I’ve always been in charge of the finances at home. This should ensure he won’t get ripped off if I die before he does!
Maike Currie, investment director, Fidelity International @MaikeCurrie
I’m going to make the most of my maternity leave by setting up a Junior Isa or Jisa for the newest addition to our family. After the market volatility of 2018, I will also be rebalancing her investment portfolio.
Jason Butler, FT columnist @jbthewealthman
Money can be a dry subject, but people learn more when they’re laughing. In 2019 I’m going to invest in some comedy coaching to make my money talks funnier and more engaging. Investing in yourself is one of the best investments you can ever make!
Caroline Fiennes, founder, Giving Evidence @carolinefiennes
To tidy up the charities named in my will. I wrote it in a distracted rush ages ago and, like most people probably do, named some charities which came to mind quickly. A January task is to check whether they are actually effective and, if not, swap them out for some charities that are.
Sir Steve Webb, director of policy, Royal London @stevewebb1
My goal is to reach all who started a family since January 2013. Thousands have not claimed child benefit and are missing out on vital credits for their state pension. We risk going back to the 1940s when women had to depend on men in retirement. Petition at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231761
John Kay, FT commentator @ProfJohnKay
My resolution is to keep all my financial data in one place on my computer. But that was my 2018 resolution too. And to spend more in 2019. No need to save for a golden coffin.
Gina Miller, founder, SCM Direct @thatginamiller
Let 2019 be the year that the #FCA resolves to ensure that the ‘C’ stands for cleaning up the morally bankrupt investment industry, rather than endless consultations.
Eddie Mair, broadcaster with LBC @eddiemair
I resolve to finally declutter my life using at least one of the four books on decluttering that are somewhere, either on the shelves or at the back of that drawer.
Lord Lee, FT columnist firstname.lastname@example.org
Check your Premium Bonds. There are currently 337,279 unclaimed prizes worth nearly £20m. So dig yours out of the bottom drawer, register online and find out if you have an unclaimed prize nsandi.com/do-i-have-any-unclaimed-prizes. There is no time limit for claims.
Justin Urquhart-Stewart, co-founder of Seven Investment Management @ustewart
My resolution is to start a pension for my daughter, knowing that she won’t — but it might just nudge her into action.
James Pickford, deputy editor, FT Money @MrJamesPickford
I will be setting up a modest monthly overpayment to my mortgage to reduce the total capital sum — and keep those interest payments down in the long term. By the time my latest fix ends I want to make a bigger dent in this debt.
Josephine Cumbo, FT pensions correspondent @josephinecumbo
My crusade this year will be to reduce plastic use in the house. Not only will this save cash, but more importantly help the environment.
Andy Bell, chief executive, AJ Bell @AJBellYouinvest
As a cobbler’s shoes are the last to be mended, I resolve not to neglect my own portfolio. Excluding my AJ Bell shares, I have three roughly equal pots of shares, passive funds and actively managed funds. I will find time once a month for tweaks and a deeper dive every six months.
Lucy Warwick-Ching, digital editor, FT Money @WarwickChing
Our five-year fixed rate mortgage comes to an end in March but I want to lock into a low rate now to avoid any uncertainty over Brexit. I’m going to take advantage of some of the current deals and remortgage at the start of the year to get the lowest interest rate.
Andy Tilbrook, production editor, FT Money @AndyTilbrook
This year — for once — I will not postpone the chore of my online tax return until about three days before the January 31 deadline. Last year I did precisely that, only to discover that a vital document that I needed was nowhere to be found, prompting a last-minute scramble to obtain a duplicate. Lesson learnt.
Kate Beioley, FT Money reporter @KateBeioley_FT
I will be opening an investment account with my partner, so we can build up a pot for future goals and become more disciplined about putting money aside. Holding the money jointly should reduce our ability to dip into it, and deciding on what investments to buy will give us something new to squabble over.
Tulsi Naidu, chief executive, Zurich UK @ZurichInsUK
I will take a couple of hours in January to go through and document my pensions, savings and level of cover for family and possessions. An early spring clean to remove any double payments and get the right level of risk and protection early in 2019.
Ben Thompson, BBC Breakfast presenter @BBCBenThompson
My resolution is to “buy less, but buy better” through a mix of supporting local and independent firms, making fewer impulse purchases that I don’t actually need and prioritising quality over quantity.
Iona Bain, founder, Young Money blog @ionayoungmoney
I want to be fluent in freelance fintech. A number of apps have launched to help the self-employed manage their finances, such as Coconut, Albert and Cool Company. Sounds like an awful funk group, but I’ll try anything that helps me claim the right expenses and prevents #invoicehell.
Nicholas Megaw, FT retail banking correspondent @nicholasmegaw
To start using a bank account for a reason other than “they gave me a free railcard 10 years ago”. There are some great deals for those who switch.
Christine Ross, director, Handelsbanken Wealth Management @clmross
“You can’t take it with you” is the maxim of many a bon vivant — but it has solid financial groundings too. If you do try, the tax authority will take its cut. Using your annual allowances is key.
Nimesh Shah, tax expert at Blick Rothenberg @Nimshah14
I am going to convince my family to follow my financial lead. I want everyone to fund their Isas, Junior Isas and Lifetime Isas fully — that’s a lot of tax-free savings between my fiancée, parents, niece and nephew. Plus, my dad might finally understand what I do for a living as well!
Henry Pryor, property expert @HenryPryor
This year, I really am going to make a back-up file on a USB stick with all my passwords, bank accounts, a copy of my will and life insurance details for my family “just in case”.
Lindsey Stanberry, author of The Money Diaries @LEStanberry
No more online clothes shopping! It’s become a bad habit. Not so much that I’m overspending, but nothing ever fits and I waste SO much money and time returning stuff. It’s supposed to be convenient — it’s not.
James Max, Rich People’s Problems columnist @theJamesMax
I am determined to find a fizz that costs less than £10 a bottle but doesn’t clean out my sinuses. If we want to stay rich in these uncertain times, it’s time to economise. Without compromise.
Emma Agyemang, FT Money reporter @EmmaAgyemang
I plan to start regular investing via one of the DIY investment platforms and can do so from just £25 a month. Markets are looking choppy but I’m looking to the long term and taking the plunge.
Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown @sarahecoles
I’m sorting lasting power of attorney. My dad made his, so when he had a huge stroke in 2018 we could use his savings to adapt his home and get him out of hospital. Given the infections he got there, his LPA was a matter of life or death.
Rachel Winter, senior investment manager, Killik @KillikandCo
I’m going to use a simple online retirement calculator to work out how much my pension will be worth in 30 years if I keep contributing at my current rate. If it’s not enough, I’ll try to save more.
Abraham Okusanya, founder, FinalytiQ @AbrahamOnMoney
Having nearly doubled the headcount of the household with the arrival of twin girls, one key item at the top of the list is to reassess our protection insurance, that is, life cover, income protection and critical illness cover. Dull stuff, yes, but crucial.
Richard Wilson, chief executive, Interactive Investor @ii_couk
I want to make sure our four children are investing for the future and can make choices they understand, are comfortable with and can afford. They’re a frugal bunch, thanks to their mum, and understand the value of money, but what about the impact of compounding and charges?
Michael Martin, private client manager, Seven Investment Management @7IM_MichaelM
Review your financial plan. Where do you need to be on January 1 2020? And think about fees — do you know how much your investments cost? This will be more important than ever, given current volatility.
Johanna Kyrklund, fund manager at Schroders @SchrodersPR
Returns on overseas investments have been boosted by the 15 per cent fall in sterling, so lock it in and bring your money home to the UK!
Nikou Asgari, FT Money reporter @nikasgari
To my parents’ delight, I’m going to open a Lifetime Isa in order to hopefully, in the very distant future, buy a house. I’m also going to try and curb my online shopping, both for the good of my bank account and the environment.
Gill Lofts, head of wealth at EY @GillLofts_ey
I’m going to discuss my fees with my financial adviser — they are definitely too high! Also, I’m going to sort out my parents’ finances while they are still around to help out.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust @emmarevie
To make a weekly meal plan. Every week. And then stick to it. When it works, it reduces our costs and waste and helps my family to be healthier.
Charlotte Ransom, founder of Netwealth @netwealth
To ensure mine and my family’s Isa contributions are automatically invested on the first day of the tax year — without having to lift a finger. Most of us make a mad rush for Isa solutions after having missed out on a full year’s worth of tax free returns. No longer!
Claire Walsh, personal finance director at Schroders @IFAClaireWalsh
Having just started at Schroders, my resolution is to review my employee benefits and all my personal policies, as I think I probably have some duplication and I can cancel these to save some money. Starting a new job is always a busy time!
Jo Little, financial planner and co-founder of Eelah @jarenlittle
To treat regular savings and investments as fixed expense that are deducted as soon as I get paid each month. And increase that amount by a good proportion of any rise in income to avoid lifestyle creep.
Simone Westerhuis, managing director, LGB Investments
My new year resolution is to use the “carry-forward” pension tax rules to use up pension allowances from the previous three tax years, and increase my pension contributions in a tax efficient manner.
Save for the future in 2019
Saving more money is the top item on FT readers’ financial to-do lists for 2019.
When asked to name their main financial new year resolution, this was the priority for more than 20 per cent of the readers who completed FT Money’s new year survey. The second most popular answer was consolidating pension pots. However, two-thirds of FT Money readers admitted they had tried — and failed — to tackle their financial resolutions for more than a year.
Last year was dreadful for world stock markets, with the FTSE 100 index falling by 12.5 per cent.
Rachel Winter, senior investment manager at Killik and Co, says she understands the increasing desire to hold cash. “For the first time since 1994, the return on cash beat the returns on both the stock market and the bond market.”
However, Thomas Eyles, director of Lathe & Co Wealth Advisers, cautions that those holding cash risk losing out on any share price rises. “With doom and gloom all around it’s tempting to sell into cash within Isas and pensions to see out the storm. However, more often than not this results in missing opportunities when the rebounds occur.”
Ms Winter adds: “For longer time horizons, those who hold cash will see their wealth eroded by inflation.” In the UK, inflation currently stands at 2.2 per cent, and there are very few bank accounts paying interest above this amount.
The best rates tend to be on current accounts, where banks use a higher rate to tempt customers to switch. Nationwide offers 5 per cent gross interest for a year on balances up to £2,500; TSB will pay 5 per cent on the first £1,500 and Tesco Bank offers 3 per cent on balances up to £3,000.
Many current accounts offer “regular saver” accounts if you pledge to save a fixed, monthly amount for a whole year. For example, you can get 5 per cent interest on a maximum saving of £300 a month at First Direct. Nationwide, HSBC and M&S Bank all offer 5 per cent interest for those who save up to £250 a month. Halifax offers a regular saver for children, paying 4.5 per cent interest on a maximum saving of £100 per month.
The best easy access rate is the new Marcus account by Goldman Sachs, which offers a one-year bonus rate of 1.5 per cent on balances up to £250,000. The best one-year savings bond is currently from Atom Bank, which offers 2.05 per cent interest on a minimum online deposit of £50.
Many FT readers told us they had resolved to teach their children much more about managing their own finances and investments this year; a view echoed by many of our experts. As FT reader Bruce Swanson put it: “Doesn’t Bomad [the bank of Mum and Dad] have an advisory capacity too?”